My wild mustang Kodiak was my inspiration for this issue, which celebrates the makers of Missoula. No, he doesn’t have a knack for holding a paintbrush between his teeth but he does remind me of the passion where all art is born, and to keep that place accessible. 

As he slung mud and paraded around a small paddock with his head held high and flaring his nostrils wide, I thought to myself, why did I think I was capable of bringing this animal home? After numerous attempts, I was able to stand beside him and look out across a field of gold grasses—the glorious grasses of winter—and just be close to him. The iris of his eye seemed backlit by the fading sun and we stood there in the calm between our matching breath. Touching his thick, rich coat was me walking on the moon. 

That moment with him was a reminder of the good stuff—the stuff that gets planted deep at your core and blooms from within. Inspiration! 

The cover image—a painting by Mary Durnin Firth—captures all of what this issue is to me. It celebrates the artistry of closeness, color, and mastery of craft in the best of ways. All of the makers within these pages have followed a calling, and we are so grateful for them and their talents. Their desire to say something about our world using their most innate abilities as a form of expression is the glue that holds our community together. Thank you, dear makers, for your vulnerability, persistence, and talents. 

So, what does a mustang have to do with art? When I get a little too wrapped up in the day’s work, I’ll take my fears and whatever is undone and lay a hand gently on my mustang, and all at once the hawk flies, the grass swishes in the breeze, and a flood of words try to chase the way he looks against the big sky.